Indians & Cowboys

18/01/2016And A Thousand And One Samples

Championing soundscapes unlike anything we’ve heard before, Copenhagen’s musical masterminds, die-hard crate diggers, composers and DJs Den Sorte Skole are an absolute revelation. Trailblazers in the art of sampling the Danish duo* of Simon Dokkedal and Martin Højland have established a form of musical storytelling that goes beyond the confines of genre and style to create a mesmerisingly beautiful hybrid. Their work can be described as a seamless acoustic collage, tirelessly stitched together from countless bits and pieces, a mindbending jigsaw puzzle of obscure vinyl treasures, riveting soundtrack and invaluable historical document in one.

Call it “plunderphonics”, there is most definitely a method to their proverbial madness. Over the years, building on their early experiences as mash-up DJs rooted in hiphop and reggae and driven by a certain geekiness, the two began to scour the web for obscure source material, meticulously identifying, tagging and organising their finds into a now humongous sample archive. Aided by turntables, samplers and effect-machines, they then match rhythmic patterns, tonalities, styles, instrumentation and the likes, ultimately reworking old into new, but basically leaving the orignal untouched, as revealed in a recent interview with Cool Hunting.

Having laid the definitive foundation with their third album Lektion III, a groundbreaking 90-minute/3xLP magnum opus, released in 2013, their latest self-released 78-minute, 100% sample-based follow-up feat, alias “Indians & Cowboys”, is a richly detailed kaleidosonic adventure, “a raw, challenging and complex piece of work, bringing together forgotten musicians from more than 75 different countries on 6 six continents in a global ghostorchestra (transcending) time and space”.

In all its variety, “Indians & Cowboys” is, simply put, “a nod to who came first”, which takes their innovative methodology to new extremes, a black market of global sounds, “from middle-eastern dancehall madness, weird jazz experiments and heavy dub psychedelics to beautiful piano trips, dark machine raids and spaced-out tribal traumas. From here to there – out there, and everywhere”.

None of the countless samples used were cleared because, quite simply, “in today’s copyright-regime it would be impossible to clear the amount of samples involved in (their) work and because they insist on challenging a system built by big businesses in favour of mainstream artists and big record companies. And more importantly, by revealing their sample-sources and playing with their cards open, Den Sorte Skole hopes to pass on knowledge, credit and interest to the forgotten musicians upon whose shoulders (they themselves) - and the rest of the music business - stand, build and create.”

So without further ado, get your free copy here, check out the video to album track Heli Yosa below and enjoy the ride!

*Third member Martin F. Jakobsen is on leave since 2011, currently based in Khartoum, Sudan and pushing forward the Turning Tables initiative, an NGO founded by Den Sorte Skole back in 2009, working to empower youth in developing countries by providing them with the audio-visual means to creatively express their hopes, grievances and dreams.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom